Why Santa must be a tenured faculty:
His job is for life.
He works one day a year.
He travels all over the world, presenting work done by others and taking credit for it.
In her latest post, Professor in Training (PiT) indulges in the favorite pastime of us academics, namely academia-bashing. Blogosphere abounds of that; one day it is widespread sexism, the next is rampant abuse of graduate students by professors, the next is the proliferation of inactive professors who, as they enjoy the unlimited protection (read: impunity) given to them by academic tenure, according to PiT spend essentially their entire career “refus[ing] to do any more work or actively try[ing] to undermine the efforts of others until retirement”.
I have no doubt that PiT’s lamentation is firmly grounded in reality. Indeed, I myself can relate to much of what she writes, having experienced as an assistant professor a work environment (a small department at a large state university with greater emphasis on teaching than research) very similar to that which she describes in her posts. I would be a hypocrite if I denied having been frequently as irritated and frustrated as she is, and having said many of the same things, going as far as wishing that tenure be abolished.
I believed that, while introduced to avert a hypothetical attack on academic freedom on the part of government or university administrations, tenure was creating an even worse problem by allowing, if not downright encouraging, inactivity, negligence, stagnation and plain mediocrity.
After more than a decade I feel much less strongly about this issue (even though I think that some of the arguments made by those who favor abolishing tenure are valid). Fundamentally, I think that the description given by PiT, while it may accurately represent the status of her own department  (or even of some type of department at some type of institution), as a general characterization of the average tenured faculty in North America it is way off-base, and grossly unfair.
The contention that deadwood, as essentially inactive tenured faculty are commonly referred to, is prevalent, or even a significant problem in academia may be popular among conservative politicians or others who resent academics for their own reasons, but has little to do with reality . It is disappointing and annoying to see a fellow academic contribute to spreading yet another of those misconceptions about academia which are, of course, already quite common in the “the big, wide, scary world” outside it .
Studies after studies have shown that tenured faculty generally publish more, serve on more committees and teach more than their untenured colleagues.
Those rare cases of professors to whom the description proposed by PiT applies obviously call for swift action on the part of chairs and deans, and it is important not to lose sight of the fact that, contrary to popular belief, tenure in America is not a “lifetime job guarantee” (see, here, for instance). That chairs and deans are often reluctant to take such action does not mean that it can not be taken — it simply means that chairs and deans are not doing their job.
Be that as it may, whatever one may think about this subject, and I agree that there are good reason why academia as a whole may be better off without tenure, it is largely a moot point. Every academic system in the world features tenured faculty appointments, and I think tenure is here to stay , the main reason being that it is there now. Any research institution deciding to do away with it, would immediately put itself at a tremendous recruiting disadvantage vis-a-vis competing institutions. Its administrators, with their characteristic shortsightedness, may see it as an effective cost-cutting measure to resort to cheaper part-time instructors and do away with research altogether, but society would soon respond by branding that school as of lesser quality (and for good reasons).
And I honestly do not believe that a world without tenure would look very different than the current one. Any employer appreciates workforce stability. The notion that, if they could, universities would start firing professors like there is no tomorrow, is naive. I think the lack of mandatory retirement is a much more serious problem.
 It is the responsibility of a department chair and dean to make sure that newly hired assistant professors who are trying to get a research program going be sheltered not only from the most onerous teaching and service assignments, but also from any tenured faculty member who may have the tendency to patronize, annoy, intrude on, intimidate and even bully younger colleagues. Failure to do that amounts to lack of spine and makes one unfit for the job.
 Estimates as to the amount of deadwood in academia range from two to five percent. See, for instance, H. Rosovsky, The University: an owner’s manual 210-11 (1990); Brown & Kurland, supra note 12, at 332. In their book Up the university: recreating higher education in America (1993); Addison-Wesley, R. and J. Solomon, while making a powerful case for the elimination of tenure (Chapter XV), nonetheless state quite clearly (p. 254) that the “few… deadwood professors” would not really be a good reason for such a change.
 Will any academic professor raise his/her hand, who has not been asked by a friend outside academia “So… how are you keeping yourself busy these Summer days ? You are off work, aren’t you ?”.
 It might be appropriate to remind oneself that only slightly over half of all teaching personnel in American institutions of higher education is tenured anyway.